Understanding Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tears in Pets: Essential Information You Should Know

Witnessing an athlete go down with a knee injury during a sporting event often makes us cringe, as it is likely an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear, a crucial ligament for knee stability. But did you know that your beloved pet can suffer from a similar knee ligament tear? Referred to as the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), the problem may have a different name but remains the same.

What exactly is a cranial cruciate ligament tear in pets? This ligament connects the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia) and plays a vital role in stabilizing the knee joint. When the CCL ruptures or tears, the shin bone thrusts forward away from the femur as your pet walks, causing discomfort and instability.

Several factors contribute to CCL damage in pets, including ligament degeneration, obesity, poor physical condition, genetics, skeletal shape and configuration, and breed. In most cases, CCL rupture occurs gradually over months or years due to ligament degeneration, rather than a sudden injury to a healthy ligament.

Identifying the signs of a cranial cruciate ligament tear in pets can be challenging for pet owners. The severity of symptoms may vary, making it difficult to determine whether veterinary care is necessary. However, a CCL rupture requires medical attention. If your pet shows signs such as pain, stiffness, hind leg lameness, difficulty standing or sitting, trouble jumping into the car or furniture, decreased activity level, muscle atrophy in the affected leg, or limited range of motion in the knee, it’s crucial to schedule an appointment with our team.

When it comes to repairing a torn cranial cruciate ligament, the treatment approach depends on various factors, including your pet’s activity level, size, age, and the degree of knee instability. Surgery is generally considered the most effective option, as it offers a permanent solution to managing the instability. Surgical techniques such as osteotomy or suturing are commonly employed. However, medical management may also be a viable alternative.

If your pet is limping on a hind leg, it could indicate a torn cranial cruciate ligament. We encourage you to contact our team and schedule an orthopedic exam for your furry friend.